THIRD COMMITTEE INFORMED OF `SERIOUS DECREASE’ IN HEROIN PRODUCTION IN AFGHANISTAN, BUT LARGE STOCKPILES REMAIN
THIRD COMMITTEE INFORMED OF `SERIOUS DECREASE’ IN HEROIN PRODUCTION IN AFGHANISTAN, BUT LARGE STOCKPILES REMAIN
Fifty-sixth General Assembly
8th Meeting (AM)
THIRD COMMITTEE INFORMED OF `SERIOUS DECREASE’ IN HEROIN PRODUCTION
IN AFGHANISTAN, BUT LARGE STOCKPILES REMAIN
Committee Also Hears That UN Terrorism
Prevention Branch Is Underfunded, Understaffed
As the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) this morning began consideration of issues concerning crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control, it was told that in July 2000 the Taliban had banned opium poppy cultivation in the areas they controlled.
Frances Maertens, Deputy Director of the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (UNDCP), noting the central importance of the current situation in Afghanistan, added that the ban had led to a serious decrease in heroin production. Although any drop in production was welcome, there was concern that large stockpiles still existed from pre-ban production.
Further, he continued, the farmers who had been dependent on the production of opium poppies, were struggling economically, especially because of the punishing drought in the country. The UNDCP was working to promote humanitarian aid to ease the burden of the farmers, as well as pressing for the destruction of the surplus stockpiles. He also said the Office was monitoring the region to ensure that the Taliban kept the ban in place.
Eduardo Vetere, Director of the Centre for International Crime Prevention, told the Committee that just one week before the 11 September terrorist attacks on the United States, the Commission on Crime Prevention had reached broad consensus on an action plan on terrorism, which featured five-point strategies for both national and international activities.
Mr. Vetere added, however, that while there seemed to be a new sense of urgency within the international community to address terrorism in all its aspects, the Centre’s Terrorism Prevention Branch -- the United Nations body most qualified to deal with the issue -- remained underfunded and, consisting of only two professionals, understaffed. He appealed to the Assembly to ensure the provision of the minimum resources required that would enable the Centre to carry out its mandate in that regard.
In the discussion that followed, several delegations posed questions concerning myriad subjects, ranging from coordination in the field between United Nations agencies to crop replacement development.
The representative from Pakistan wondered what initiatives were under way within the UNDCP to address the concerns of “front-line States” -- countries that bordered major production centres. Mr. Maertens said that mechanisms had been solidified in order to create a “belt” around countries like Afghanistan in order to stop the flow of drugs into neighbouring States.
Also participating in the dialogue were the representatives of Belgium (speaking on behalf of the European Union), Iran, China and India.
Opening the Committee’s general discussion, the representative of Belgium, speaking on behalf of the European Union, stressed that the United Nations played a crucial role in stemming the flow of illegal drugs across borders. At the national level, she said, States had an obligation to ensure that recovering addicts were smoothly reintegrated into society. Frequently they needed vocational training and help in finding housing to get back on their feet.
Representatives from Zambia (speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC)), Chile (speaking on behalf of the Rio Group), United States, Japan, Cuba, Liechtenstein and Egypt also participated in the debate.
The Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. this afternoon to continue consideration of issues related to crime prevention and international drug control.
After opening its 2001 substantive session earlier this week with the consideration of issues related to social development, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today took up the next set of items on its agenda, on crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control.
To guide its overall discussions on those issues, the Committee had before it the Secretary-General’s report on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (document A/56/155). The report highlights the progress made in implementing Assembly resolution 55/64 on strengthening the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme, in particular its technical cooperation capacity. It also describes the status of work with regard to the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and an international legal instrument against corruption.
The report also identifies concerns relating to the criminal misuse of information technologies, and describes progress in implementing global programmes against corruption, trafficking in human beings and transnational organized crime. The report concludes that the Programme will be measured to a large extent by its ability to achieve tangible results, following the guidance provided by Member States and the United Nations policy-making bodies.
According to the report, three basic requirements are identified to sustain the progress made over the past years: vigilant action by intergovernmental bodies to reinforce the focus of activities of the Programme on achievable and viable priority areas of engagement; continued efforts to provide resources to match the existing mandates of the Programme; and efforts to increase voluntary contributions for the provision of technical cooperation services.
The Committee also had before it a note by the Secretary-General on the inspection of programme management and administrative practices in the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (document A/56/83). It details the findings of a review of programme management and administrative practices in the Office for of Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP).
The report states that the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) believes that the major strengths of the United Nations Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) and the United Nations Centre for International Crime Prevention (CICP) are their clear mandates, their high priority on the intergovernmental policy agenda and their broad range of expertise in their mandated areas.
The report also offers recommendations, including suggestions that management should develop comprehensive annual plans for both the UNDCP and the CICP, and that the ODCCP should not undertake any large-scale, long-term commitments without appropriate conceptual studies, feasibility research and reasonable assurances of donor support.
Another note transmits the report of the High-level Political Signing Conference for the United Nations Conference against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols Thereto (document A/56/380). It contains background information on the preparations for the Conference, which was held in Palermo, Italy, last year from 12 to 15 December.
The report also highlights the work of the Ad Hoc Committee on the elaboration of a convention against transnational organized crime, as well as its discussion and eventual finalization of draft protocols to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, respectively. The signatories to the Convention and its protocols are listed in Annex I of the report. Annex II contains a summary of statements.
Another note transmitting the report on the Meeting of the Intergovernmental Open-ended Expert Group to Prepare Draft Terms of Reference for the Negotiation of an International Legal Instrument against Corruption (document A/56/402-E/2001/105), was before the Committee. According to the report, that meeting was held in Vienna from 30 July to 3 August.
The report contains a draft resolution on the terms of reference for the negotiations of the United Nations convention against corruption, which is brought to the Assembly's attention for action. By the text of that draft, the Assembly would decide that the ad hoc committee on negotiating the convention be convened in Vienna in 2002 and 2003. That body's work should end in 2003, and subject to the determination of an agreed title, the convention should be called the "United Nations Convention against Corruption".
On international drug control, the Committee would again consider the report on the inspection of programme management and administrative practices in the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (document A/56/83).
The Committee also had before it the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the outcome of the twentieth special session of the General Assembly devoted to countering the world drug problem together (document A/56/157). It provides a comprehensive overview of implementation efforts, including goals set for 2003 and 2008, and the Action Plan for the Implementation of the Declaration on Guiding Principles of Drug Demand Reduction.
According to the report, the adopted action plans and measures serve as a catalyst for action in the implementation of international drug control treaties. They also complement the Global Programme of Action and have become a universal point of reference for governments. The report concludes that landmark progress has been achieved in implementing the Action Plan on cooperation on the eradication of illicit drug crops, and the illicit cultivation of narcotics crops has been halted in several countries.
The report states that the most impressive results have been achieved in Afghanistan, where UNDCP surveys and work have confirmed the near disappearance of the opium poppy in areas controlled by the Taliban. On the other hand, the report notes that cocaine abuse had stabilized in the United States but was on the rise in Europe and parts of Latin America. Efforts to reduce the abuse of synthetic drugs have also had mixed results.
Another document expected by the Committee, the Secretary-General's report on the United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (UNAFRI), will be issued at a later date.
In addition to the reports, the Committee had before it two resolutions. The first was on the role, function, periodicity and duration of the United Nations congress on the prevention of crime and the treatment of offenders (document A/C.3/56/L.4). By that text, the Assembly would also decide to continue holding the congress in accordance with the programme of action of the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme. That should follow a dynamic, interactive and cost-effective method of work.
Further by the text, the Assembly would decide that beginning in 2005, each congress should discuss specific topics, include one session of pre-congress consultations, include a high-level segment, and should adopt a single declaration containing recommendations derived from the deliberations of that segment. It would request the Secretary-General to continue providing the secretariat staff for the congress, as well as the regional preparatory meetings for the congress.
The second resolution was on action against transnational organized crime: assistance to States in capacity-building with a view to facilitating the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the adopted protocols thereto (document A/C.3/56/L.5). By that text, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to provide the Centre for International Crime Prevention of the Office for Drug Control with the resources necessary to enable it to effectively promote the entry into force and implementation of the Convention and protocols thereto.
By the text, such effective promotion should include providing assistance to developing countries and countries with economies in transition for building capacity in areas covered by the Convention and its protocols. The Assembly would also encourage Member States to make adequate voluntary contributions to the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Fund in order to provide technical assistance for developing countries and countries with economies in transition to implement the Convention and its protocols.
FRANCES MAERTENS, Deputy Director of the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (UNDCP), speaking on behalf of the Office's Executive Director, Pino Arlacchi, said that last July, the Taliban had announced a ban on opium poppy cultivation in areas under their control in Afghanistan. A survey undertaken by the UNDCP showed that this year's production was around 185 metric tons, which was down from 3,300 last year -- a decrease of 94 per cent. Compared to the record harvest of 4,700 two years ago, the decrease was well over
97 per cent. Any decrease was welcome, but two related factors required attention. First, the enormous increases in production in the two seasons prior to the ban meant that there were large stocks on hand. For this reason, the decrease in production did not have any impact on heroin supply in the region or in Europe. Also, the sudden absence of opium poppy, combined with the serious drought in the region, had created an emergency situation among the farmers who were economically dependent on the poppy as a source of cash income. Given this, the UNDCP undertook a strategy based on three principles -- ensuring the Taliban kept the ban, promoting humanitarian aid for farmers who had been affected by the ban, and pressing for the destroying of the stockpiles.
Turning to East and South Asia, the Lao People's Democratic Republic Government had brought forward to 2005 its target for full elimination of illicit poppy, two years ahead of their target. A reduction of 36 per cent in cultivated area had been achieved since 1998, mostly in areas benefiting from alternative development programmes. The work in Laos was an excellent example of operational synergy among aid sources to ensure effective alternative development. Myanmar had reduced opium poppy cultivation by 38 per cent over the past five years, down to just over 1,000 tons last year. This had been achieved with very limited international assistance. With the application of the ban in Afghanistan, Myanmar would be the largest single source of opium this year, but it was believed that with increased assistance, it would be possible to achieve additional major reduction in cultivation in the country.
In Latin America, where the main focus was cocaine, Bolivia and Peru continued the pattern of achievement established in recent years. In Bolivia, illicit coca cultivation dropped from 33,800 hectares in 1997 to only 3,100 hectares in 2001 – an 88 per cent decrease in cocaine potential. In both countries, the aim was now to consolidate and sustain the past drug control successes by implementing wider and deeper alternative development programmes. Further international assistance was essential to this effort. The internal armed conflict and the global drug problem weighed heavily on Colombia. The country was implementing a determined drug policy, and the UNDCP continued to play a role through alternative development projects in several illicit crop areas, addressing the needs of 35,000 families within the limited resources available.
EDUARDO VETERE, Director of the Centre for International Crime Prevention, United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, said a number of major developments had occurred since the Assembly last took up that issue. The most significant of those had been the Assembly’s adoption last November of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three protocols -- on trafficking in persons, the smuggling of migrants, and the illicit manufacture of and trafficking in firearms.
At the High-level Political Conference on the Convention held in Palermo last December, 123 States and the European Community had signed the Convention, he said, adding that that was the highest number of opening signatures for a convention in United Nations history. Currently there were 132 signatories to the Convention, 91 for the trafficking protocol, 87 for the protocol on smuggling of migrants and five for the firearms protocol. Five countries had also ratified the Convention. He said that the Convention and its protocols remained open for signature until 12 December 2002, and States could join them in accession after that date.
Still, he continued, Member States were urged to ratify those powerful instruments against transnational organized crime as soon as possible to ensure their early entry into force. The Convention represented a milestone in international cooperation against international transnational organized crime. The Centre had initiated several regional and subregional seminars on ratification, including within the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). He added that the Committee had before it a draft resolution on supporting capacity-building and technical cooperation activities for the implementation of the protocols.
Highlighting the work of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice over the last year, he noted that, among other things such as fighting corruption, the busy agenda had also focused on drafting texts for the Assembly’s consideration on plans for action and implementation of the Vienna Declaration on Crime and Justice.
He said that just one week before the terrorist attacks on the United States, the Commission had reached broad consensus on the elaboration of an action plan on terrorism which contained five national and international points of action. At the same time, he said that the Centre, the United Nations Organization most qualified to deal with the issue of terrorism, remained understaffed. He appealed to the Committee to provide the minimum resources required to enable the Centre to carry out its mandate.
Dialogue with Committee
Many members of the Committee asked questions of Mr. Maertens and
Mr. Vetere. The delegate of Pakistan asked if there was concern that, with the supply of heroin down, higher prices for the drugs could induce farmers to begin production again, despite the Taliban's ban. Pakistan also asked if there were any proposals or projects to aid "front-line States", like Iran and Pakistan, which tried to stop the flow of heroin out of Afghanistan.
The delegate from Belgium, on behalf of the European Union, asked about the strengthening of coordination between the UNDCP and the ODCCP, and other related agencies.
Mr. Vetere said the UNDCP, the CICP and a number of field offices were dealing with both crime prevention and criminal justice. These offices were located in those countries in which there were a number of projects with different crime prevention and criminal justice aims. There were a number of projects going on in South Africa, Central Africa, and the northern regions, for example.
The delegate from Iran said they needed further cooperation and assistance from the international community.
Mr. Maertens said the UNDCP tested pilot programmes for alternative development in four districts of Afghanistan. In those districts, about
50 per cent of the poppies had disappeared. Another effort created a "belt" with the countries around Afghanistan, including Iran and Pakistan, to stop drugs from coming out of there. With the ban, the cost of heroin went up from $30 a kilo to $700 a kilo. Since 11 September, the price again had dropped to $80 a kilo. He also said that the UNDCP developed a strategy programme framework in Central Asia, helping build a drug control agency in Tajikistan, for example. And, as far as the European markets were concerned, the drop in production would probably not be felt until next year because of the stockpiles.
The delegate from China asked what the UNDCP had done in South-East Asia and India with replacement development, and what were the future plans?
The delegate from India asked how much heroin was stockpiled, and in whose hands was it? Was the correlation between drug trafficking and organized crime and terrorism referred to plans of action to implement the Vienna Declaration?
Mr. Maertens said the work in South-East Asia could not succeed without regional cooperation. Enormous progress was seen in countries like Viet Nam. In Myanmar, production was kept mainly to the northern states. The UNDCP knew the stockpiles in Afghanistan existed, but did not know where.
Mr. Vetere said in the plans of action to implement the Vienna Declaration, there were many issues covered, including transnational organized crime, trafficking in persons, smuggling of migrants, trafficking in firearms, money laundering, and terrorism, for example. The specific section dealing with terrorism covered drug trafficking and organized crime.
BIRGIT STEVENS (Belgium), on behalf of the European Union, said drug use was a global phenomenon. It affected almost every State in the world, even if the scale and characteristics of the problem varied according to region. Drugs frequently went hand in hand with an upsurge in crime and violence, the spread of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis, the need for treatment and social exclusion. The European Union was fully supportive of the UNDCP's increasing commitment in questions relating to the link between drug consumption and HIV/AIDS.
The European Union believed that greater priority should be given to countering the threat posed by synthetic drugs, in particular amphetamine-type stimulants, at every level, she said. It called for urgent action to face up to that global challenge. It denounced the sale of those substances on the Internet. Cooperation between States should be further improved.
Ms. Stevens said the European Union appreciated the assistance provided by the UNDCP for the development of demand reduction strategies consistent with internationally approved principles. It also supported the spread of the best
on-the-ground practices. Certain categories of persons, such as street children, children and young people in particularly vulnerable situations, or victims of abuse, needed specific participatory strategies. Regarding access to treatment and rehabilitation, drug addicts had specific needs. Women, young people, refugees and minorities needed easier access to social assistance and social services. The special needs of pregnant drug addicts and children of drug addicts had also to be addressed.
Drug addicts, once they were undergoing treatment, frequently needed vocational training and help in finding accommodation and being reintegrated into society, she said. Alternatives to imprisonment should be considered for drug addicts who committed criminal acts.
Supply reduction was also a key feature, she said. The European Union fully supported any plan to prevent, limit and eliminate the cultivation, production and distribution of and the trafficking in drugs.
Over the years, the international community increasingly recognized the need to make progress in the field of drug trafficking and crime, she said. The European Union invited Member States to reinforce the pre-eminent role of the United Nations specialized bodies in the design and operational implementation of the various components of the response to the challenges confronting the modern world. The European Union believed that the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice played an important role in setting general guidelines for the United Nations specialized bodies on the subject, contributing to the study of those phenomena, and to the search for appropriate responses through legislation and conventions. The European Union called on Member States to provide the resources needed by the UNDCP and the CICP, bodies which played a central role in coordinating international cooperation on combating drugs and crime, so they could conduct their activities and carry out their mandates.
MWELWA MUSAMBACHIME (Zambia), speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said the current debate was being held in the wake of the tragedy wrought by the recent terrorist attack on the host country. That horrific incident had demonstrated that terrorism was a threat to international peace and security which required an immediate and coordinated international response. To that end, he called for the immediate and comprehensive implementation of international instruments against crime, including terrorism.
International terrorism was linked to organized crime, he continued. Welcoming the adoption last December of the Convention on Transnational Organized Crime, he hoped that important instrument would open new avenues of technical assistance through policy development, advisory services and field projects to assist Member States in combating such crime. He added that the Convention and its protocols, the first legally binding instruments for fighting organized crime, would help eliminate inconsistencies in international criminal justice policies and strategies that had been long exploited by criminal networks.
He went on to say that the liberalization of economies and the free movement of goods and people sparked by globalization had also contributed to the already sophisticated organized criminal activity in his region. New and innovative approaches were now needed to enable the SADC countries to combat such crimes as money laundering, the growing illegal abuse of natural resources such as diamonds and precious metals, the illicit trade in small arms, and the new and emerging cyber crime phenomenon. The SADC countries had realized that, in order to fight against organized criminal cartels, coordination on all matters of public security within the region, particularly among police forces, was necessary.
He said there was strong commitment in the region to curb the tide of drug abuse and drug trafficking. The SADC Drug Office had initiated a number of
ongoing projects to that end in coordination with the UNDCP. He added that mainstream development programmes in the region addressed root causes of poverty and underdevelopment, the main causes of many social ills such as drug abuse, corruption and money laundering. He stressed the important role the African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders (UNAFRI) could play in regional efforts to fight crime if it were provided adequate resources.
LORETO LEYTON (Chile), on behalf of the Rio Group, said the countries of the Rio Group had expressed on numerous occasions their resolute determination in the fight against the world drug problem. They supported the work of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, and wished to draw attention to the proposal to hold a thematic debate on drug control during its sessions, as was done this year for the first time. The Rio Group noted with concern that, increasingly at the global level, minors were being used in the illicit production and trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. It was also concerned that the number of children and young people who began consuming drugs at an early age, and who had access to substances that they did not previously consume, was also increasing.
The Rio Group stressed the importance of drug demand reduction, and reiterated that efforts to control supply would be inadequate without a firm lasting commitment to reducing demand, she said. While the achievement on the supply side had been beyond expectations, the same could not be said for the demand side. According to the Secretary-General's report, reaching the 2008 target of measurable reduction in the demand for illicit drugs still posed a major challenge.
The Rio Group considered that the commitment of the international community to the fight against terrorism and its sources of financing was now an imperative, she continued. To this end, the prevention and punishment of money laundering and the elaboration and implementation of effective strategies to combat this and other related crimes, such as the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons or the trade in chemical precursors, was essential. In that regard, the Rio Group considered that the right against drugs was one of the principal aspects of the fight against terrorism and that the principle of shared responsibility also extended to the latter. The Rio Group reiterated its commitment to that effort and stood ready to continue to work together, with a comprehensive and balanced strategy based on the principle of shared responsibility towards the common goal of countering the world drug problem and related crimes.
JAMES MACK, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, United States State Department, expressed appreciation for the overwhelming support and solidarity the host country had received since 11 September. The United States was a different country today than it was a few weeks ago. But the attacks had only strengthened the core tenets that made his country the nation it was, particularly promotion of the rule of law and the civil rights of citizens. Still, The United States was not grieving alone. Seventy-nine other countries were mourning citizens lost in the attack, and the host country extended its heartfelt sympathies to the families of all the victims.
The attack of 11 September had been an attack on the rule of law, he said, the principle that enabled civilization to exist and on which the United States had been founded. Terrorism was the most dramatic manifestation of criminal contempt for that law. The global community must ensure that international criminals, including terrorists, could no longer take advantages of weaknesses in international law enforcement and judicial cooperation. International lawlessness must not stand, and above all, governments and citizens must show the courage to refuse accommodation or compromise with criminal organizations that lacked respect for democratic governance and for the dignity and value of human life.
Domestically, he continued, global partners must resolve to renew efforts to thwart criminals, including drug traffickers and terrorists, from infringing upon the right to create more humane and just societies. That was the overriding priority of the current United States Administration. Recently, President Bush had issued an executive order freezing the financial assets of a growing list of terrorist organizations. The United States Congress was currently reviewing laws in order to better enable law enforcement officers to investigate and apprehend criminals more effectively. In short, the host country had intensified its commitment to fight crime, while remaining conscious of the rule of law and civil rights.
He stressed that the fight against international lawlessness could not succeed without commensurate international cooperation. The civilized world must make its cooperative efforts as seamless and focused as the criminal organizations that sought to undermine them. Broad cooperation could lead to, among other things, identification and dismantling of criminal syndicates, prosecution and imprisonment of criminal leaders and the development of new ways to counter criminal networks. The tools that might be developed and lessons learned could be wielded against all manner of individuals that sought to replace the rule of law with the rule of the jungle. They could only be stopped through joint efforts. “We must rise to the challenge”, he said adding that the greatest unifying forum against lawlessness, a truly indispensable organization against crime and terror, was the United Nations.
TSUNEKO YANAGAWA (Japan) said in the twenty-first century, there should be more of an emphasis on a human-centred approach to combat the threats to life and dignity. Terrorist acts were clearly the most intolerable, and should be strongly condemned. Since acts of terrorism were often financed through transnational organized crime and international drug trafficking, Japan believed that efforts had to be strengthened to combat such crime and problems at both the national and international levels. Those had to be priorities if there was to be success in ensuring human security.
She said Japan hailed the adoption by the General Assembly of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its signature by a significant number of countries, as well as three related protocols on illicit firearms, smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons. In the course of deliberation on the Convention, Japan actively participated in the intensive discussions, and made financial contributions totalling $550,000 to assist developing countries in attending the meetings to discuss those instruments.
More than three years had passed since the United Nations special session on the World Drug Problems in 1998, she said. It was now crucial for the international community to implement the global strategy adopted at the special session, and to continue the efforts of the follow-up process. Japan was fully committed to cooperating with other States, the UNDCP and other international organizations to achieve that goal. In response to the special session, Japan had launched its Five-Year Strategy in 1998, which had the following four major pillars: prevention of abuse by young people; strict law enforcement concerning trafficking and abuse; active implementation of border controls; and reintegration of ex-drug users through treatment and rehabilitation. Japan was determined to continue its work for international cooperation to realize a world free from the menace of crime and drugs in the twenty-first century.
LUIS ALBERTO AMOROS NUÑEZ (Cuba) said that despite broad efforts to combat the spread of drugs and related crimes, the international community had not been able to hinder the rampant spread of and trafficking in illegal narcotics or the disruption they caused in some regions. There was no doubt that the gravity and complexity of the matter required genuine international cooperation and the political commitment of all global actors. The fight against drugs had no future if State sovereignty and international integrity were routinely ignored.
He said that cooperation was only possible on the basis of shared responsibility, on all issues related to drug control, from production to distribution. Greater contribution in that regard should be made by developed countries to assist the efforts of the developing world. His delegation would continue to condemn unilateral action on the drug front taken by some States, particularly the one with the largest consumer population. That State could not claim to be the international arbitrator on international drug issues.
He praised the work of the UNDCP and other relevant United Nations organizations. In Cuba, their joint efforts had enhanced training and technical support for the infrastructure and mechanisms aimed at combating drugs. His Government had demonstrated its desire to prevent its territory from being used as a drug trafficking route. Indeed, thousands of foreign individuals had been arrested and their planes and boats confiscated over the last few years alone.
He reiterated Cuba’s proposal to cooperate with the United States Government on drug control efforts. Cuba was not asking for anything, he added -- not even the lifting of the economic blockade against his country -- even though relaxing sanctions would certainly enhance the fight against drug trafficking in the region. Still, Cuba would continue to uphold its international obligations and continue to work to combat crime, including drug trafficking.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said the need for enhanced cooperation in international criminal matters, particularly in the fight against international organized crime, had become an even more burning issue over the past few weeks. There were obvious common features of terrorism and other forms of international organized crime, in particular in the areas of communication and money transfers. The expertise of the Terrorism Prevention Branch of the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention could thus be of major assistance in the implementation of the far-reaching provisions of the Security Council resolution 1373, and Liechtenstein was heartened by the fact that the "Counterterrorism Committee" was looking at ways and means of including this expertise.
Liechtenstein had a longstanding commitment to contribute to the fight against international organized crime, he said. As a liberal economic centre with high-quality financial services, Liechtenstein had made great strides over the past few months to further improve its record in the fight against money laundering. Given the importance attached to that area, a good part of his Government's resources and expertise was given to guarantee that Liechtenstein, as a financial centre, ensured the observation of the highest international standards. Tightening of legislation in the areas of money laundering and mutual legal assistance went hand in hand with institutional changes and improvements at the enforcement level.
Organized crime knew no boundaries -- it did not stop at national borders. The only chance for success was to design effective methods of international cooperation, which was indispensable. Especially for a small country, it could be immensely useful to rely on external international expertise. International cooperation could only be effective in the long run if it was carried out by all parties in a truly cooperative spirit -- transparency, fairness and mutual understanding were the key components in cooperation. Attempts to pursue unrelated goals under the pretense of fighting money laundering and unrelated criminal activities hindered, and could ultimately defeat, international cooperation.
MAI KHALIL (Egypt) said that at the twentieth special session of the General Assembly, devoted to the global drug problem, there had been agreement to slow down the demand for drugs. Despite many international efforts, illicit drugs were still a major problem and an obstacle to development, causing unemployment, poverty and violence. Egypt endorsed the calls for greater cooperation between nations, the United Nations system and civil society. The problem went beyond the borders of the producing countries. Creative programmes needed to be established, and children and younger people needed to be targeted. Awareness-raising mechanisms that steered people away from the trap of drug abuse were important. There was a need to fine tune plans to deal with the various aspects of the problem -- legal, educational, financial and social, for example. The root causes of drug abuse also needed to be investigated.
She said the whole issue was affected by the revolution of information technology and the disappearance of almost all borders. Egypt was determined to call on the international community to focus on those issues together.
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